Earlier in April, Facebook held its annual global developer’s conference, F8. During this event, Facebook officially announced the features and functionalities they’ve been working on behind the scenes. This year’s offerings were particularly robust, with significant developments in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and Internet & Social Media access throughout the world.
Alongside those large scale advances, there are four features that were introduced or changed that are sure to be of interest to business owners: Instant Articles, Facebook Live, ChatBots and Save.
People love reading short, well-formatted, entertaining or informative articles through Facebook, but they hate waiting for those articles to load. Last year, Facebook introduced Instant Articles, which allowed content uploaded by specially selected publishers to load up to ten times faster than content that was hosted elsewhere and linked to. This initial, limited roll out was a success, and now Instant Articles will be made available to all.
[Tweet “Instant Articles are 30% more likely to be shared than mobile web articles.”]
Instant Articles can include video, expandable maps and images, and other features that encourage users to engage with your content. Not only are Instant Articles faster, they are, according to Facebook, 30% more likely to be shared than mobile web articles. This exponentially increases the reach of content marketing efforts, and as we all know, on Facebook, that’s kind of a big deal.
Live allows business owners to broadcast, in real time, what’s going on. Ideal for events, tradeshows, and behind the scenes footage at your business, Live gives your audience a chance to interact directly with you. A notification feature lets people know when they should tune in, which gives each Live broadcast a feel of being a special, one-time event. Live has only been available for a short time, but it’s already proven to be a hit with video-loving audiences who value the real, in the moment feel Live offers.
During F8, it was announced that you’ll no longer be limited to Live broadcasts using your computer or smartphone camera. Expanded functionality means you can broadcast live from a camera mounted on a drone, via an app, and more. It will be very interesting to see how businesses use this new ability to market themselves.
Chatbots in Messanger
Messenger has steadily been increasing in importance as a customer service and sales channel, as customers demonstrate a preference for brief texts over phone calls and emails. Responding to all of the texts can be a very time consuming process, particularly for business owners who don’t have a very large staff.
Chatbots are automated scripts that can respond, with a remarkable degree of personalization, to common customer questions and requests. That means there’s no need to tie up a staff member’s time answering 30 daily inquiries about your hours of operation. Chatbots can handle fairly complex tasks, from booking reservations and even making sales: they’re a feature every business owner will want to know about.
The Save feature was rolled out well in advance of F8, but we’ve found that many business owners don’t know about it. Almost everyone has had the experience of encountering a fascinating Facebook post at exactly the wrong time – when you’re in a hurry, for example, or are in an inappropriate setting to watch a funny video. By clicking on the Save button in the lower left corner of the post, users can bookmark a post to revisit it later.
When you’re looking at your Facebook Insights to determine what types of content have the most resonance for your audience – something you should be doing at least weekly! – pay attention to the number of Saves. If a particular type of content is being Saved regularly, you may want to adjust when it appears in your posting schedule. Shifting long-form content to the weekend, for example, may result in higher rates of engagement. The Save feature is also a valuable for your own social listening campaigns; when you find posts relevant to your own business, but are in too much of a hurry to read them immediately, save them and schedule time on a weekly basis to review those items!